PERSONAL/PSYCHOLOGICAL OBSTACLES TO
THESES AND DISSERTATIONS
For many students the thesis writing process is a challenging and relatively
painless process - the culmination of successful graduate studies. Some
students, however, face obstacles that may require short-term professional
The staff at NIU's Counseling and Student Development Center is available to
assist individuals or groups with any of the thesis writing obstacles listed
- TIME MANAGEMENT - an inability to find the time to complete the
project. (May be a symptom of any of the following):
- STRESS/ANXIETY - whether related to the thesis or other life
circumstances, stress can interfere with your productivity and ability to
concentrate, and can adversely effect your sleep, health, and relationships.
- PERFECTIONISM - the belief that your thesis is never quite good enough
and that improvements are possible and necessary.
- FEAR OF FAILURE - by never starting or completing the thesis, you may
avoid a finished product which you anticipate being unacceptable, or which you
fear will be deemed unacceptable by your committee or others.
- FEAR OF SUCCESS - with the successful completion of the thesis comes
the inevitable next step - full-time employment or doctoral studies. Thesis
incompletion may represent the delay or avoidance of that next step.
- CONFLICT WITH THESIS ADVISORS - such conflicts may need to be resolved
before the thesis can be undertaken or completed.
- "IMPOSTOR SYNDROME" - the inaccurate belief that you have
insufficient skills to complete the project and don't measure up to fellow
students. Often related to:
- LOW SELF-CONFIDENCE - being plagued by self-doubt which manifests
itself in inadequate academic performance.
- UNRELATED PERSONAL PROBLEMS - personal concerns that interfere with
your academic progress (e.g., romantic, medical, financial, familial).
- ACADEMIC "BURN-OUT" - because thesis writing comes at the
end of the academic program, you may feel restless, unmotivated, overwhelmed,
or "just plain sick and tired" of school.
Counseling and Student Development Center
200 Campus Life Building
Northern Illinois University